TOGETHER NOW: Love People & Use Things vs. Love Things & Use People

Abundance Collaboration Happiness


Key Point: Love people and apply the power of TOGETHER. This principle may be so obvious that we are missing fully optimizing the “happiness opportunity” right in front of us. It is accessible and inclusive versus unattainable and exclusive. 

The 30th president of the United States Calvin Coolidge, and Mrs. Coolidge were touring a poultry farm. The first lady noticed that there were very few roosters, and asked how so many eggs could be fertilized. The farmer told her that the virile roosters did their jobs over and over again each day. “Perhaps you could point that out to Mr. Coolidge,” she told him. The president, hearing the remark, asked whether the rooster serviced the same hen each time. No, the farmer told him — there were many hens for each rooster. “Perhaps you could point that out to Mrs. Coolidge,” said the President.

This amusing and perhaps even embellished story is apparently the genesis of something actually called “The Coolidge Effect,” the idea that more and variety (in this case sex) somehow leads to more happiness (moral considerations not withstanding). The research actually proves the opposite. For more on this and other research, please read a wonderful article in the New York Times on what drives happiness and unhappiness. The punch line is that obsessively chasing fame, money and hedonism of all excess leads to unhappiness. This of course has been the wisdom often cited through the ages, and contemporary research validates what the wise have concluded. Nevertheless, it is a constant battle for most of us to keep our egos and priorities in check.

As Arthur C. Brooks so eloquently states in the article: “It requires a deep skepticism of our own basic desires. Of course you are driven to seek admiration, splendor and physical license. But giving in to these impulses will bring unhappiness. You have a responsibility to yourself to stay in the battle. The day you declare a truce is the day you become unhappier.”

Digging for “happiness insight” in a completely different vein, I found another compelling piece of research. This is from a superb HBR blog:

“David Rock, founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, has identified relatedness — feelings of trust, connection, and belonging—as one of the five primary categories of social pleasures and pains (along with status, certainty, autonomy, and fairness). Rock’s research shows that the performance and engagement of employees who experience relatedness threats or failures will almost certainly suffer. And in other research, the feeling of working together has indeed been shown to predict greater motivation, particularly intrinsic motivation, that magical elixir of interest, enjoyment, and engagement that brings with it the very best performance.” 

We are hard wired to work TOGETHER and connect. This does not mean working side by side, or having lots of meetings, etc. It means actively working together like the joy many of us find preparing a meal in the kitchen TOGETHER. When one takes a step back and honestly examines how organizations work, lots of people are around each other but how much do they really do TOGETHER?

Character Moves: 

  1. The simple principle of loving people and using things versus loving things and using people is a great reminder. Pursuing the value you bring to others each day will help you (and me) stay on the tight track. The counter intuitive irony is that focusing on giving and creating value as a purpose gives most of us the “things we need.”
  2. Examine your TOGETHER quotient and consider increasing it at work and other parts of your daily life. Going to Starbucks, plugged in besides a bunch of other people on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or texting doesn’t count. Around is not together. TOGETHER means connecting hands, mind, and heart where we matter to each other’s success. 

More TOGETHER in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: Finding this balance is definitely tricky. I feel I’m personally trying to move a million miles an hour, and find ways to earn greater success in all elements of my life… Technically almost everything I do can be attributed to the idea of ME getting more for myself… I’d like to look for more opportunities to work TOGETHER while still obtaining my goals, even though that doesn’t always seem practical or possible. It’s that whole “(excess) MAY not buy you happiness, but having none of it will certainly buy you misery” mentality… Fortunately, reminders about the value and importance of working TOGETHER helps me rethink how I can do more of that now, and still keep moving forward in a better way. 

– Garrett 

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis